Thursday, October 22, 2009

Vale the Don

He only came to Australia to host a brief series of a 'tonight' style shows in the 1960s and stayed until he passed away today at 75 from a dementia related illness.

Don Lane was born in the Bronx as Morton Donald Isaacson in 1933 and was a moderately successful lounge singer in Las Vegas before an offer came out of the blue to host 6 variety TV shows in Sydney which the producer thought Don could fit in between some Hawaii nightclub appearances. He was to be a replacement for host-Irish comedian Dave Allen who had been sacked for appearing drunk on his first show.

He had been recommended as a suitable candidate by singer Wayne Newton who was in the country at the time. The Lanky Yank never left and became one of the most loved and popular show biz personalities.

In the 90's he became the voice of American NFL broadcasts for local TV with his American accent and passion and understanding of the sport. From the 60's to the late 90's Lane never stopped working in entertainment,becoming a successful talk-show host until sadly he was diagnosed with altheimers in 2008. The end came quickly today.

Memorable moments in Lane's career included being invited to join Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr on a tour and his run-in with skeptic James Randi. Spoon bender Uri Geller and British psychic medium Doris Stokes were regulars on his shows discussing the paranormal.

When Randi began to make derogatory remarks about Doris Stokes who Lane adored, he said to the skeptic :"we're going to a commercial break now and you can piss off". As a stunned Randi stared-Lane swept props off a table and to audience applause, stormed off his own set.
He was corny, he was too American, he couldn't sing that well but Don was loved by all.
RIP Don Lane.